The Delusional Thinking Process: To the Victor Go the Spoils
In the old days of war, the winning army pretty much got to loot the countryside and take what they wanted—wealth, crops, women, whatever. These would be the spoils of victory. In a relatively civilized setting, we tend to use this term symbolically or metaphorically. The winner (the victor, the victorious one, the one who gets the victory) gets whatever benefits go with the actual winning of the title, prize, award, office, or event. These can be formal or informal. That is, they can be a designated part of the prize (a gold medal, a contract with an athletic equipment manufacturer), or they can just tag along with it (celebrity status, free gifts, media attention, a boost in the winner’s love life).
I don’t want to focus on the illness of schizophrenia when I don’t need to, but I do want to note some things I learned as I came out of my latest episode of delusion and minor psychosis, where paranoia was the overarching element.
Early this morning, I am refreshed and out of any episodic states related to my illnesses. I’m now able to access what it was like, yesterday, when I blended back into this more normal life experience. I want to demystify what happened in my mind—in order to learn how to cope even better next time. I want to figure this whole darn craziness out. The more I grow, and grow more comfortable with this illness, primarily schizophrenia, the more I’m looking for answers, solutions, and understanding.
I also did some thinking while the paranoid and delusional beliefs, along with my awareness of them, were still present.
So I think about delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. Then I’m going to start my day, meditate, have fun, and in a couple of hours attend my psychologist’s appointment, and then maybe edit part of one of my upcoming novels. But I will stay off the computer for the most part, I hope. I hope!
It seems that I might more simply label hallucinations, delusions, and, in short, any psychotic feature as:
I think that I have had experience of several categories—and that one scenario will usually stand out, although many will in fact overlap. This may be:
• Aliens/Conspiracy/End of the World—Doom
I made some of these notes during my episode, and more as I was coming out of it using my coping tools, of which these days I have many. I’m discovering that my delusions are for the most part rooted in some grain of truth. In a way, they would represent, were they to be mapped out, my entire worldview. The processes and the storyline are likely to have, I believe, a lot more back-story, subtext, metaphors, and symbols (to use terms from writing). As a writer, who knows about the craft, I think my knowledge helps me understand some of this schizophrenia material, and I am finding, although I am perhaps slightly biased, a correlation between writing theory and practice—starting with the idea that I am in general so fascinated with story.
Some kind of historical context (Jung’s theories play a large part):
“To the victor go the spoils.” The spoils of victory are the extra bonuses, perks, and treasure you get for winning.
Killers will kill for money and power.
Think of this the other way around, as our schizophrenic realities will often distort: “To the spoils go the victor.”
Let’s amp that up to a more grandiose context. Perhaps: War and global catastrophe.
People are out to get me (paranoia) for money, power, and status. I often believe that this is true.
Then there’s the storyline. Maybe it’s because I am a writer, although I will often distort the story element in my writing, warping time, place, settings, and characters, as in my films (including On the Bus, Wax, Ten Years, and others) and in some of my novels.
Story, story, story. The schizophrenic storyline—the delusional thinking process—is a healing process. Processes. I believe that this is the root of it all—that the storylines for me (and I would think for most suffering with schizophrenic or psychotic disorders—or thought disorders) are personal, synchronistic, and overlapping, and that symbols, mythology, and connections, even coincidences, take on a very deep and, once more, personal meaning, a very deep and personal context.
I’m again digging a bit deeper into the vulnerabilities of psychosis, now that I am not currently experiencing an episode. Although my heightened awareness or metacognition often lets me know if and, it does not always.
Symbolic stories. Someone’s tattoo of a cross might make me think that he (or she) is God—then I might confess my sins to a complete stranger. However, if I am aware enough, these days I can usually keep this to myself and believe wholeheartedly that yes, indeed, this person with the tattoo is God, no doubt, but I’ll just keep that secret to myself. This goes for any delusion. However, this then leaves me, and us, susceptible to actual theft or simply vulnerability, since if, and when, something of ours, or mine, is taken, stolen, I am somehow really and truly wronged. I often feel trapped with my secret of knowing this but having to pass it off as: “Okay, this isn’t real… if that man—the man with the cross tattoo—is probably not in fact God, then no, my pack of cigarettes was probably not stolen.”
Kind of frightening because if I saw my house burning down, I would likely believe this was real. This particular symptom is a common one for me. However, if it really was burning down, I think that I would probably not do a thing about it, especially while in fear and stress from the event that I am experiencing, real or not. The police would come and I’d be locked up for being schizophrenic, for making a fake 911 call, and I’d be scared—with multiple reasons reasons to be scared.
Please take note that some of the above writing has been paraphrased from my second novel, Second Alibi: The Banality of Life (2014).
You can also find Jonathan on Facebook and Twitter. Author Jonathan Harnisch has written semi-fictional and semi-autobiographical bestselling novels, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography and Second Alibi: The Banality of Life, which are available on Amazon and through most major booksellers. He is also a noted, and sometimes controversial, author, mental-health advocate, fine artist, blogger, podcast host, patent holder, hedge-fund manager, musician, and film and TV writer and producer. Google him for more information.